Friday, October 7, 2016

Missing Art of the Metroplex - What Happened to the Hands of God?


UPDATE:  On October 6th, 2017, the Dallas Morning News announced it was moving it's headquarters to the former Dallas Library which had been vacant since 1982. The building is part of the Statler Hotel redevelopment project across from the Main Street Gardens.
   I thought this would be an appropriate time to remember the 'Hands of God' statue that once graced the Library. The brackets of the statue are still visible on the building. But what happened to the sculpture?  Our story from 2011.

What happened to this man's statue that once adorned the outside of the Dallas Public Library? 

   Downtown Dallas recently received a bit of excellent news. The 1950's era Statler Hotel, which sits vacant across from the new Main Street Garden, was recently purchased for renovation. The building, which was on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Most Endangered List, will now be renovated, adding another completed piece to the Downtown puzzle.

  Part of the sale included the neighboring abandoned building, the mid century modern structure which was once  the site of the Dallas Public Library. The library, designed by noted Dallas architect George Dahl was left vacant after the library moved to its current site across from City Hall in 1982.

The old library on the left, the Statler Hotel to the right


  When the original library was built in 1956 on the corner of Commerce and Harwood, noted artist Marshall Fredericks was commissioned to supply a sculpture to capture the essence of the new facility. His idea, a boy supported by the hands of God, holding a book and reaching upwards.



   However, the library board was taken aback when the original drawings of the artwork featured a boy in all his pureness. (In other words, naked) The board requested changes, and the boy was redone, shirtless but with pants. (some may say that this was creepy in a new and different way).

   Frederick's massive aluminum sculpture (seen above) adorned the library's outer wall until it closed in 1983. When the facility was moved, the library's director declined to take the Hands to the new library, still embarrassed over the city ordered modifications, feeling that it was a poor compromise of Fredericks original vision.

   The building was sold and the new owners took possession of the artwork. Sadly, the owner defualted on the mortgage and passed ownership of the building and sculpture back to the bank. Then in late 1993, the bank failed. The sculpture and the old library then passed to the FDIC.

   If you walk by the building today, which is located on the southeast side of Main Street Gardens, you can see the giant brackets that once held the Hands of God. A ghostly outline appears where the statue once hung. What happened to the sculpture?


The brackets and the faded outline on the outside of the old library.

   In 1993, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation offered the Hands back to the city for a mere $20,000. The city declined the offer, stating that it didn't have the funds to move and maintain the sculpture after the purchase.

   Meanwhile, the sculptur, Marshall Fredericks, in his 80's and with his health failing, fearing that the building would be be torn down and the Hands lost forever, asked his namesake museum to purchase the piece. Today, Youth in the Hands of God can be found at the Marshall Fredericks Museum in Saginaw, Michigan along with a variety of other Fredericks pieces. The Hands, seen below, sits safely outside the main gallery.

The sculpture in it's new home in Saginaw , Michigan






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2 comments:

:::b r a n d i::: said...

Sad that Dallas couldn't keep those close by. Glad they are being taken care of though.

Longe said...

Mark, you should investigate the Caulder Art work that disappeared from downtown Fort Worth